Three Chinese smartphone OEMs - Coolpad, Lenovo, and Xiaomi - are all beating Apple in China's smartphone battle.

For the second quarter (Q2) of 2013 Samsung retained its leading Chinese smartphone market share of 17 percent, Lenovo took second with 13 percent, Coolpad was third with 10 percent, and Xiaomi edged out Apple with 6.5 percent share, according to new research from market intelligence firm ABI Research.

Because China is the largest smartphone market, accounting for 28 percent of all smartphone shipments in Q2, success in China carries an increasingly global significance.

These three rising stars accounted for 11.1 percent of all worldwide shipments in the quarter.

The sheer size of the Chinese market has made it one of the most coveted for tier 1 OEMs looking to expand share and secure a future as smartphone market growth becomes increasingly dependent on emerging and low-cost markets.

"Even though these OEMs are only selling into the Chinese market, the size of the market has allowed them to achieve shipment volumes that place these OEMs in the top 12 globally," says senior analyst Michael Morgan.

"It is not hard to imagine these OEMs as global competitors within the next 2 years."

As Apple continues to struggle with delivering low-cost products, Chinese OEMs continue to press their advantage of competitive hardware at lower price points.

"China has proven to be an excellent environment for local OEMs to test and prove their business models. In time it will be interesting to see if their unique home-field advantages can be leveraged beyond the Chinese market," adds senior practice director Jeff Orr.